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PAGE 45 Mammograms VS. Thermography - What Is Right For Me? By Laurie Blansect, M. D. Many of you are already aware that there is a con-

troversy surrounding the safety and efficacy of mammog- raphy and that breast thermography is in growing demand as a screening tool. For those of you who don’t know, I will briefly review the use of mammography and thermography:

The Effects of MAMMOGRAPHY Ionized Radiation: Who doesn’t know that ionized

radiation is a cancer risk? All of us are aware of this health FACT. It is well known that ionizing radiation in-

creases the cellular mutations that lead to cancer—as mammograms aim a highly focused dose directly at your breasts, thereby increasing your cancer risk! Mammo- grams expose your body to radiation that can be 1,000 times greater than a chest x- ray, which we know poses a cancer risk. Mammography compresses your breasts tightly, and painfully, which could lead to a lethal spread of cancerous cells, should they exist. So, should you be concerned that you are radiating your breasts every year during your mammogram? We certainly worry about it.

• Inability to Screen Women with Dense Breasts Effectively: It is well known and common knowledge that mammography is not a good screening test for women with dense or fibrocystic breasts. This is a high percentage of women! They have a high false positive rate leading them to ultrasounds and unneces- sary needle biopsies. Read your mammogram consent form where it will say that it is not a great screening test for women with dense breasts. Should women with dense breasts be given other screening options? We think so.

• High False Positive Rate: Mammograms have a high false positive rate leading to unnecessary biopsies and anxiety as well as unnecessary treatment. Screen- ing led to 30% overdiagnosis and overtreatment, or an absolute risk increase of 0.5%. This means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will have her life prolonged and 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be treated un- necessarily. It is thus not clear whether screening does more good than harm.

It is a scary prospect to think that 10 women out of 2000 will get treated for can- cer unnecessarily simply because they followed screening advice.

Breast Thermography: The Screening Tool that is Safe, Effective, and Highly Under Used Breast thermography, otherwise

known as digital infrared thermal imag- ing, is an alternative screening option for women rarely discussed or offered at conventional doctor offices. It has been growing in popularity here and in Europe as more and more women seek out screening methods that don’t radiate their breasts. A large number of pub- lished research studies are showing the benefits of thermography with little, if any, drawbacks. The facts on thermog- raphy lead one to question why this test is not used more often by the medical society at large. Here are some bullet points on the pros of using thermograms as an adjunct screening tool:

• FDA approved since 1982 as an ad- junctive screening tool.

• Patients will get no radiation during the test.

• It is non-invasive (no injection or touching or squeezing the breast tissue)

• Women any age can benefit from the information.

• Considered the earliest and safest breast cancer screening tool

• Thermograms reveal vital informa- tion regarding hormonal effects on breast tissue, breast disease, and generalized inflammation

• Great for women with breast im- plants and dense breasts

What Thermography Measures: Breast thermograms measure infrared heat from your body which can detect

signs of breast cancer as early as 10 years in advance of tumor development that neither mammography nor physical exams can assess. The infrared imaging gives the woman and her health care provider vital information about her breasts. Namely, the level of inflammation she has developing in her breast tissue. Inflammation is the start point for most cancer tumor development. What this means to you is that thermograms can predict the likelihood of your

developing breast cancer long before a tumor has formed. Breast thermograpy gives women ample time—as much as 10 years advanced warning to address a preven- tative plan including lifestyle changes and supplements to reverse their risk of breast cancer. TEN years! I highlight this because, who doesn’t want 10 years advanced notice of their risk of cancer? Who out there does not want to know BEFORE the tumor develops? Determining your cancer risk before a tumor develops is our goal here, and we recommend thermography as another option to all our patients.

For additional information:

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